In 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted its’ first National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Now an on-going survey, it collects the most current and comprehensive national and state data on intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking victimization. The information gathered helps the CDC understand the problem and prevent it before it begins. Sexual assault is a significant problem in the United States. By definition, it is any sexual activity when consent is not obtained or not given freely. Sexual violence can occur in person, online, or through technology, such as posting or sharing sexual pictures of someone without their consent, or nonconsensual sexting. Sexual violence impacts every community and affects people of all genders, sexual orientations, and ages. While anyone can be a victim, the person responsible for the violence is typically male and the victim is typically female.
Researchers know the data they collect underestimates the problem because many cases are unreported. Victims may be ashamed, embarrassed or afraid to tell anyone because they have been threatened with further harm to themselves or someone they love. Data does show that sexual violence starts early and is very costly. For example, rape victims experienced it for the first time between ages 11 and 17. As many as 25%- 33%, across all demographics, reported it occurred before age 10. Recent estimates assess the cost per rape victim at almost $123,000, which includes medical costs, lost productivity, criminal justice activities, and other costs.
According to the CDC, different types of violence are connected and often share root causes. Sexual violence is linked to other forms of violence through shared risks and protective factors. Addressing and preventing one form of violence may have impact on preventing other forms of violence. The graphic below, provided by the CDC, shows how a multifaceted approach to preventing sexual violence can also help to prevent other forms of violence. The CDC also has a resource with the best available evidence for communities to use in preventing violence. STOP SV: A Technical Package to Prevent Sexual Violence. You can get it on the CDC website.
Make your observance of National Sexual Assault Prevention & Awareness Month meaningful by reading the information and then determining how you can make a difference in your community. You can start by sharing your newfound information and knowledge with friends and family.